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The Extended Optical Disk of M101  [PDF]
Chris Mihos,Paul Harding,Chelsea Spengler,Craig Rudick,John Feldmeier
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/762/2/82
Abstract: We have used deep, wide-field optical imaging to study the faint outskirts of the luminous spiral galaxy M101 (NGC 5457), as well as its surrounding environment. Over six square degrees, our imaging has a limiting surface brightness of mu_B ~ 29.5 mag/arcsec^2, and has revealed the stellar structure of M101's disk out to nearly 25 arcminutes (50 kpc), three times our measured R25 isophotal size of the optical disk. At these radii, the well-known asymmetry of the inner disk slews 180 degrees, resulting in an asymmetric plume of light at large radius which follows the very extended HI disk to the northeast of M101. This plume has very blue colors (B-V ~ 0.2), suggesting it is the somewhat more evolved (few hundred Myr to ~ 1 Gyr) counterpart of the young far ultraviolet emitting population traced by GALEX imaging. We also detect another, redder spur of extended light to the east of the disk, and both structures are reminiscent of features produced during fly-by galaxy interactions. However, we see no evidence of very extended tidal tails around M101 or any of its companions which might be expected from a recent encounter with a massive companion. We consider the properties of M101's outer disk in light of possible past interactions with the nearby companion galaxies NGC 5477 and NGC 5474. The detection of optical starlight at such large radii gives us the ability to study star formation histories and stellar populations in outer disks over a longer timescales than those traced by the UV or Halpha emitting populations. Our data suggest ongoing buildup of the M101's outer disk due to encounters in the group environment triggering extended star formation and tidal heating of existing disk populations.
Origin of the Diffuse, Far Ultraviolet Emission in the Interarm Regions of M101  [PDF]
Alison F. Crocker,Rupali Chandar,Daniela Calzetti,Benne Willem Holwerda,Claus Leitherer,Cristina Popescu,R. J. Tuffs
Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/808/1/76
Abstract: We present images from the Solar Blind Channel on HST that resolve hundreds of far ultraviolet (FUV) emitting stars in two ~1 kpc$^2$ interarm regions of the grand-design spiral M101. The luminosity functions of these stars are compared with predicted distributions from simple star formation histories, and are best reproduced when the star formation rate has declined recently (past 10-50 Myr). This pattern is consistent with stars forming within spiral arms and then streaming into the interarm regions. We measure the diffuse FUV surface brightness after subtracting all of the detected stars, clusters and background galaxies. A residual flux is found for both regions which can be explained by a mix of stars below our detection limit and scattered FUV light. The amount of scattered light required is much larger for the region immediately adjacent to a spiral arm, a bright source of FUV photons.
Iron emission line from the spiral galaxy M101  [PDF]
Shigeo Yamauchi
Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1093/pasj/psv107
Abstract: Archival Suzaku data of the face-on spiral galaxy M101 were analyzed. An intense emission line at 6.72^{+0.10}_{-0.12} keV was detected in the central region. This line is identified with a K-line from He-like iron, which indicates the existence of a thin thermal plasma with a temperature of several keV. The iron line luminosity within the central 5 arcmin radius region is estimated to be (2-12)x10^{37} erg s^{-1}. The origin of the iron emission line is discussed.
A New Probe of the Molecular Gas in Galaxies: Application to M101  [PDF]
Denise A. Smith,Ronald J. Allen,Ralph C. Bohlin,Natalya Nicholson,Theodore P. Stecher
Physics , 2000, DOI: 10.1086/309172
Abstract: Recent studies of nearby spiral galaxies suggest that photodissociation regions (PDRs) are capable of producing much of the observed HI in galaxy disks. In that case, measurements of the HI column density and the far-ultraviolet (FUV) photon flux provide a new probe of the volume density of the local underlying H_2. We develop the method and apply it to the giant Scd spiral M101 (NGC 5457). We find that, after correction for the best-estimate gradient of metallicity in the ISM of M101 and for the extinction of the ultraviolet emission, molecular gas with a narrow range of density from 30-1000 cm^-3 is found near star- forming regions at all radii in the disk of M101 out to a distance of 12' (approximately 26 kpc), close to the photometric limit of R_25 = 13.5'. In this picture, the ISM is virtually all molecular in the inner parts of M101. The strong decrease of the HI column density in the inner disk of the galaxy at R_G < 10 kpc is a consequence of a strong increase in the dust-to-gas ratio there, resulting in an increase of the H_2 formation rate on grains and a corresponding disappearance of hydrogen in its atomic form.
Tidal signatures in mesospheric turbulence
C. M. Hall, S. Nozawa, A. H. Manson,C. E. Meek
Annales Geophysicae (ANGEO) , 2006,
Abstract: We search for the presence of tidal signatures in high latitude mesospheric turbulence as parameterized by turbulent energy dissipation rate estimated using a medium frequency radar, quantifying our findings with the aid of correlation analyses. A diurnal periodicity is not particularly evident during the winter and spring months but is a striking feature of the summer mesopause. While semidiurnal variation is present to some degree all year round, it is particularly pronounced in winter. We find that the maximum in the summer 24-h variation corresponds to that of the westward phase of the diurnal tide, and that the maximum in the winter 12 h variation corresponds to that of the southward phase of the semidiurnal tide. This information is used to infer the horizontal propagation direction of gravity waves: during the summer the eastward direction is consistent with closure of the summer vortex, while in winter the inferred directions require more complex arguments.
The discovery of seven extremely low surface brightness galaxies in the field of the nearby spiral galaxy M101  [PDF]
Allison Merritt,Pieter van Dokkum,Roberto Abraham
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/787/2/L37
Abstract: Dwarf satellite galaxies are a key probe of dark matter and of galaxy formation on small scales and of the dark matter halo masses of their central galaxies. They have very low surface brightness, which makes it difficult to identify and study them outside of the Local Group. We used a low surface brightness-optimized telescope, the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, to search for dwarf galaxies in the field of the massive spiral galaxy M101. We identify seven large, low surface brightness objects in this field, with effective radii of \(10 - 30\) arcseconds and central surface brightnesses of \(\mu_{g} \sim 25.5 - 27.5\) mag arcsec\(^{-2}\). Given their large apparent sizes and low surface brightnesses, these objects would likely be missed by standard galaxy searches in deep fields. Assuming the galaxies are dwarf satellites of M101, their absolute magnitudes are in the range \(-11.6 \lesssim M_{V} \lesssim -9.3\) and their effective radii are \(350\) pc \(-\) \(1.3\) kpc. Their radial surface brightness profiles are well fit by Sersic profiles with a very low Sersic index (\(n \sim 0.3 - 0.7\)). The properties of the sample are similar to those of well-studied dwarf galaxies in the Local Group, such as Sextans I and Phoenix. Distance measurements are required to determine whether these galaxies are in fact associated with M101 or are in its foreground or background.
Two Populations of Old Star Clusters in the Spiral Galaxy M101 Based on HST/ACS Observations  [PDF]
Lesley A. Simanton,Rupali Chandar,Bradley C. Whitmore
Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/805/2/160
Abstract: We present a new photometric catalog of 326 candidate globular clusters (GCs) in the nearby spiral galaxy M101, selected from B, V, and I Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys images. The luminosity function (LF) of these clusters has an unusually large number of faint sources compared with GCLFs in many other spiral galaxies. Accordingly, we separate and compare the properties of "bright" (M_V < -6.5) versus "faint" (M_V > -6.5; one magnitude fainter than the expected GC peak) clusters within our sample. The LF of the bright clusters is well fit by a peaked distribution similar to those observed in the Milky Way (MW) and other galaxies. These bright clusters also have similar size (r_{eff}) and spatial distributions as MW GCs. The LF of the faint clusters, on the other hand, is well described by a power law, dN(L_V)/dL_V proportional to L_V^alpha with alpha = -2.6 plus or minus 0.3, similar to those observed for young and intermediate-age cluster systems in star forming galaxies. We find that the faint clusters have larger typical r_{eff} than the bright clusters, and have a flatter surface density profile, being more evenly distributed, as we would expect for clusters associated with the disk. We use the shape of the LF and predictions for mass-loss driven by two-body relaxation to constrain the ages of the faint clusters. Our results are consistent with two populations of old star clusters in M101: a bright population of halo clusters and a fainter, possibly younger, population of old disk clusters.
First results from the Dragonfly Telephoto Array: the apparent lack of a stellar halo in the massive spiral galaxy M101  [PDF]
Pieter van Dokkum,Roberto Abraham,Allison Merritt
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/782/2/L24
Abstract: We use a new telescope concept, the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, to study the low surface brightness outskirts of the spiral galaxy M101. The radial surface brightness profile is measured down to mu_g ~ 32 mag/arcsec^2, a depth that approaches the sensitivity of star count studies in the Local Group. We convert surface brightness to surface mass density using the radial g-r color profile. The mass density profile shows no significant upturn at large radius and is well-approximated by a simple bulge + disk model out to R = 70 kpc, corresponding to 18 disk scale lengths. Fitting a bulge + disk + halo model we find that the best-fitting halo mass M_halo ~ 1.7 x 10^8 M_sun. The total stellar mass of M101 is M_tot,* ~ 5.3 x 10^10 Msun, and we infer that the halo mass fraction f_halo = M_halo / M_tot,* ~ 0.003. This mass fraction is lower than that of the Milky Way (f_halo ~ 0.02) and M31 (f_halo ~ 0.04). All three galaxies fall below the f_halo - M_tot,* relation predicted by recent cosmological simulations that trace the light of disrupted satellites, with M101's halo mass a factor of ~10 below the median expectation. However, the predicted scatter in this relation is large, and more galaxies are needed to better quantify this possible tension with galaxy formation models. Dragonfly is well suited for this project: as integrated-light surface brightness is independent of distance, large numbers of galaxies can be studied in a uniform way.
The Ultraviolet Attenuation Law in Backlit Spiral Galaxies  [PDF]
William C. Keel,Anna M. Manning,Benne W. Holwerda,Chris J. Lintott,Kevin Schawinski
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/147/2/44
Abstract: (Abridged) The effective extinction law (attenuation behavior) in galaxies in the emitted ultraviolet is well known only for actively star-forming objects and combines effects of the grain properties, fine structure in the dust distribution, and relative distributions of stars and dust. We use GALEX, XMM Optical Monitor, and HST data to explore the UV attenuation in the outer parts of spiral disks which are backlit by other UV-bright galaxies, starting with candidates provided by Galaxy Zoo participants. Our analysis incorporates galaxy symmetry, using non-overlapping regions of each galaxy to derive error estimates on the attenuation measurements. The entire sample has an attenuation law close to the Calzetti et al. (1994) form; the UV slope for the overall sample is substantially shallower than found by Wild et al. (2011), a reasonable match to the more distant galaxies in our sample but not to the weighted combination including NGC 2207. The nearby, bright spiral NGC 2207 alone gives accuracy almost equal to the rest of our sample, and its outer arms have a very low level of foreground starlight. This "grey" law can be produced from the distribution of dust alone, without a necessary contribution from differential escape of stars from dense clouds. The extrapolation needed to compare attenution between backlit galaxies at moderate redshifts, and local systems from SDSS data, is mild enough to allow use of galaxy overlaps to trace the cosmic history of dust. For NGC 2207, the covering factor of clouds with small optical attenuation becomes a dominant factor farther into the ultraviolet, which opens the possibility that widespread diffuse dust dominates over dust in star-forming regions deep into the ultraviolet. Comparison with published radiative-transfer models indicates that the role of dust clumping dominates over differences in grain populations, at this spatial resolution.
NGC 2442: Tidal Encounters and the Evolution of Spiral Galaxies  [PDF]
Chris Mihos,Greg Bothun
Physics , 1997,
Abstract: Using imaging Fabry-Perot data, we study the star-forming properties and kinematics of the nearby barred spiral galaxy NGC 2442. The Halpha emission is very localized along the strong spiral arms of the galaxy, and shows a marked asymmetry between the sharp, well-defined northern tidal arm and the weaker southern arm. The velocity field appears highly distorted, with a rapidly rotating nuclear component. We find evidence for strong non-circular motions along the northern arm, coincident with the pronounced dust lane and regions of intense star formation. The strong asymmetries, disturbed velocity field, and presence of a perturbed companion suggest that we are witnessing a strong kinematic response to a close interaction, which has redistributed the star formation activity throughout the disk of NGC 2442. Dynamical modeling supports this hypothesis, and suggests that the regions of strongest star formation are coincident with strong shocks occurring along the perturbed northern arm. Despite this redistribution of gas on small scales, this galaxy does not show a significant departure from the Tully-Fisher relation, nor does it appear to be experiencing any strong starburst. Moreover, our models predict that in a few x 10^8 years, NGC 2442 will have recovered from this encounter and will experience another passage -- and ultimately a merger -- in a few Gyr. Given the environment of many disk galaxies, this tidal encounter cycle seems likely to be a normal phase of disk galaxy evolution.
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